Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Economic Development in Utica

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was featured on "The Capital Pressroom" last night on NPR. He discussed his new approach to economic development across the state.
While serving as Director of HUD under President Bill Clinton, he noticed that the most successful economic development programs across the country were competitive in nature. He was determined when elected to the top spot in the state that he would change the culture of how business was done in N.Y.
Ten regional "supercommittees" were formed and charged with competing with each other for a prize of 40 million dollars-each!
The only caviat was that only six groups would win and the other four would be left to split an as  yet undisclosed sum of money.
Where does that leave Utica?
As only one of the urban centers in a region that now goes as far east as Amsterdam, it is not apparent how the city will benefit. And, what if our region is not chosen as one of the top six? What does that mean for a city whose condition is one of the worst in the state?
Will Utica be left to languish in despair and decay while other regions of the state prosper under the Governors new plan?
Lots of questions, lots to think about.
Cuomo defended his plan by saying that it would promote competitiveness between regions to craft the best plan. The question is, in a state with the depth of problems that N.Y. has, is forcing one down and out region to comepete against the other fair?
Cuomo feels that for too long, provincialism has ruled N.Y. He is right. In our own area, New Hartford competes against Utica, Rome and just about everyone else for any drop of new retail development. Towns and villages hate the cities, the cities feel they bear the burden to care for the downtrodden of the region, and so it goes.
The Govenor wants no "pie in the sky" plans. He wants tangible, realistic and doable proposals that will quickly transform each region.
So, to answer an earlier question of its fairness I say, its about time! Finally, a political leader in Albany that actually understands the state of N.Y. and the crazy way we do business here. Towns, villages, hamlets, cities all competing for the same dwindling resources. Putting them on notice that cooperation with each other is the only way to grow and prosper is an idea that has finally arrived.
The only problem for Utica: will our committee rise to the occasion and craft a plan that is not only beneficial to the city but the region as well?
We will soon see!

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